Referral traffic is one of the top acquisition sources for many online businesses. Therefore, many teams are eager to not only track the overall performance of this channel but also to understand its sources and, more importantly, the exact page referrer (full referral path).
Universal Analytics’s referral report allowed us to see the referral sources and full-page URLs from which the specific traffic was sent. Google Analytics 4 doesn’t have this in-built report yet.
However, there is a workaround solution this article will present below to find the page referrer in GA4.
What is Page Referrer in GA4?
Page Referrer is the complete referral URL presenting the page from which the traffic was sent to your website.
For instance, if the traffic was initially sent to you from Google Search, you will see “www.google.com,” but if it was sent from another 3rd party website, you will see the exact page path where your website is mentioned.
Full Referral URL allows businesses to monitor which websites help you acquire more traffic and which referral pages work better.
For instance, some referral websites can have multiple links to your website among their website pages, and some pages can work better than others in terms of metrics (leads, signups, trials, orders, purchases).
You can monitor which referral pages perform better and negotiate with the partner to pay for those that send high-quality traffic. As a result, you have high-quality traffic and a lower budget spent.
As mentioned below, Google Analytics 4 doesn’t have the in-built report to monitor it, but let’s explore how to create such a report step by step using GA4 Explorations.
How to find Page Referrer (Full Referral URL) in Google Analytics 4?
As a result, Google changed the available information in Google products about Referral traffic, and the referral path is no longer available in Google Analytics 4.
However, there is still a possibility to find this full referral path in GA4 using “session_start” event.
Please follow these steps to create a report to find Page Referrer in GA4:
- Open GA4 -> Explorations and create a new blank report
- Give you report the name “GA4 Referral Path” and import the following dimensions:
1) Event name
2) Page referrer
3) Session default channel group
- Import the following metrics:
1. Event count (will present number of sessions in this report)
- Add dimension “Page referrer” to rows and “Event count” to Values
- Add filters with the following configurations
1. Event name “exactly matches” session_start
2. Session default channel group “exactly matches” Referral
3. Page referer “does not contain” your domain
4. Page referer “does not match regex” “^\s*$” (to remove empty rows)
- Adjust the number of rows you want to see (up to 500)
Once you do that, you will see the report as the one presented above.
If you want to add more metrics, such as conversions, purchases, and revenue. You can add them, too.
Other ways to find the exact Referral Path
Sometimes, we need other ways to find the full referral path, in this cases, we rely on others tools: some of them are free while others require to have a paid subscription. Let’s look at them briefly.
Firstly, you can use Google Search to find the exact Referral Path(es).
To retrieve this information from Google Search, you should search in Google using this pattern “keyword site:domain name”. You can see the example below, where I searched for any mentions of “nomos” websit on ”geopoliticsandempire” website.
Although this approach can illuminate where your website was mentioned, it can’t tell you how much traffic and conversions the specific referral path generated if there are multiple mentions on the same domain.
Secondly, you can use external paid resources to find the referral path. A few to mention are Semrush and Ahref. The tools used for SEO and can allow you to track every backlink (referral page URLs).
Thirdly, when you know that some referral traffic comes from the specific referral, and this referral has a few pages where your brand was mentioned. I recommend you talk to this referral and ask to add UTM parameters. UTM parameters will help you to track every page separately in Google Analytics 4, and you will get transparent analytics with all core metrics.
To summarize, because of privacy policies, Google Analytics 4 doesn’t show page referrer as a standard report, but you can create a GA4 Exploration report with a “session_start” event to track the complete referral path in GA4. Besides that, there are also a few other ways to find the exact referral path mentioned above.
However, the best way to monitor any acquisition source is to set up UTM parameters that allow you to properly track all traffic and enjoy seeing the complete view in GA4.
You can use the “Page referrer” dimension with “session_start” event in the GA4 Explorations report to find the necessary data.
GA4 shows the referral website as a source and “referral” as a medium for every referral traffic. Unlike Universal Analytics, there is no possibility to see “Referral Path” in GA4. There is a workaround with the “Page referrer” dimension and GA4 Explorations report.